The Growing Trend of Middle-Aged Motherhood

Singer Sophie B. Hawkins is pregnant with her second child at 50, while birth rates for older women are on the rise. But is having a baby this late a good idea?

The Growing Trend of Middle-Aged Motherhood Featureflash/

It's not uncommon to hear about stars becoming dads well past middle age. After all, Steve Martin was 67, David Letterman was 66, Bruce Willis was 67 and Paul McCartney was 61, when their children were born. Rod Stewart had kids at age 60 and 66, Michael Douglas at 56 and 59 and Larry King at 66 and 67.

But now, there seems to be a growing trends of moms, both celebrity and otherwise, getting pregnant over the age of 50. The latest: Sophie B. Hawkins, the "Damn, I Wish I Wish I Was Your Lover" singer, who recently announced she is expecting a baby in July at the age of 50.

"I went through waking up crying and saying, 'Am I too old? Will I suddenly at 51 have my knees give out?'" Hawkins, who had embryos frozen when she was 31, told PEOPLE magazine. "Now I don't have any of those fears because I feel healthy and strong. I'm also setting up a good net of support, and that's the key to anybody having a child."

Several celebrity moms have given birth in their 40s—Gwen Stefani, Halle Berry, Holly Hunter, Nancy Grace, Gina Davis, Kelly Preston, Susan Sarandon and Laura Linney are among them. But could 50s be the new 40s?

The rising trend of middle-aged new moms

According to a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control, while birth rates declined for women in their 20s, they increased for most age groups of women ages 30 and older. And for women 50 and older, births have generally increased since 1997, the report notes, pointing to fertility-enhancing therapies as a cause.

Hawkins, who has a 6-year-old son, Dashiell, says her decision to become pregnant again was an emotional one.

"I've been wanting to have a child since Dashiell was 1, but I was working too much and there was a lot going on in my relationship," she told People, adding that now she's feeling great."I still exercise the same, work the same, do everything the same."

Why it's a good thing

Of course, the ethics of having a child later in life—many site the extreme age difference (Hawkins would be nearly 70 when her child graduates from high school)—faces much debate. But Dr. Joanne Stone, director of fetal medicine at New York's Mount Sinai Hospital, tells TODAY that things have changed.

"I had a conversation with a patient today, and she asked if I ever felt like it was unethical," she tells the news program. "Life expectancy has changed for women and you never know what's going to happen. You could have a baby at 30 and be diagnosed with cancer. But if you are healthy and have a good life expectancy, you can raise a child to a good age."